Youth: Information, Spaces & Experiences



Youth: Information, Spaces & Experiences (YISE)


Our Mission 

As YISE faculty, we aim to be child and youth-centered in our work (research, teaching, and service) in that we focus on the everyday lived experiences of children and youth in communication and information contexts, with particular emphasis on promoting their well-being and creating space for their voices. 


Our Purpose

The purpose of YISE is to serve as an interdisciplinary space to bring together faculty and students who are interested in the scholarship focused on children and youth's experiences in communication and information contexts (e.g. libraries, museums, online spaces, youth programs, informal and formal learning settings). If you are interested in knowing more about YISE, please contact daniela.digiacomo [at]


School of Information Science Faculty

Sarah Barriage


Sarah Barriage is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information Science at the University of Kentucky. Her work focuses on three interrelated areas: the information practices of children and youth in everyday life contexts; issues of social justice as they relate to information institutions; and the development and implementation of child-centered qualitative research methods. Her work is heavily informed by the field of childhood studies, which prioritizes understanding children's experiences through their direct engagement in the research process and privileging their voices in matters of concern to them. 


Barriage, S. (forthcoming). Young children's information seeking practices in center-based child care. Journal of Librarianship & Information Science

Barriage, S. (2018). Task-centered activities as an approach to data collection in research with children and youth. Library & Information Science Research, 40(1), 1-8. doi.10.1016/j.lisr.2018.01.001



Spencer Greenhalgh


Spencer Greenhalgh is an assistant professor of Information Communication Technology in the University of Kentucky's School of Information Science. He focuses his research on the affordances and implication of information communcation technologies for teaching, learning, and other meaningful practices. Much of this research involves collection of trace data from digital platforms. Learn more at


Greenhalgh, S. P. (online first). Influences of game design and context on learners' trying on moral identities. The Journal of Experimental Education. Link to article

Greenhalgh, S. P., Koehler, M. J., & Boltz, L. O. (2019). The fun of its parts: Design player reception of educational board games. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 19(3). Retrieved from 



Maria Cahill

Maria Cahill is an associate professor at the University of Kentucky with a joint appointment in the School of Information Science in the College of Communication and Information and Education Leadership Studies in the College of Education. Maria's research focuses on the role of libraries, and the programs and resources offered through libraries, in supporting the development and outcomes of children and youth. 


Cahill, M., Joo, S., & Campana, K. (2020). Analysis of language use in public library storytimes. Journal of LIbrarianship & Information Science, 52(2), 476-484. Retrieved from

Cahill, M., & McGill-Franzen, A. (2013). Selecting "app"ealing and "app"ropriate book apps for beginning readers. The Reading Teacher, 67(1), 30-39.



Daniela Kruel DiGiacomo

Daniela Kruel DiGiacomo is an Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science in the School of Information Science at the University of Kentucky. As a learning scientist trained in the sociocultural tradition, her scholarship is guided by commitment to community-based and youth-centered research that is both justice-conferring and humanizing. Daniela's program of research has focused on understanding "relational equity" in various learning environments-- that is, relations of exchange between adults and youth in which neither's way of being in the world, or making sense of it, dominates the other (DiGiacomo & Gutierrez, 2015; 2017; Penuel & DiGiacomo, 2018). Daniela uses her community-based and youth-centered research to support the study and design of more equitable learning experiences that extend young people's lived experiences, interests, and expertise. 


DiGiacomo, D. (2020). Supporting interests and sharing power: Insights from a Scottish youth program. Journal of Youth Development, 15(5), 69-92.

DiGiacomo, D., Van Horne, K. & Penuel, W.R. (2020). Choice and Interest in Designed Learning Environments: The case of FUSE Studios. Information and Learning Sciences, 121 (3/4), 137-154



Luke LeFebvre

Luke LeFebvre is an Assistant Professor of Communication in the School of Information Science at the University of Kentucky. As a scholar, he investigates how teachers and learners co-create meaning for learning in various educational contexts, particularly when communication technology is involved in the process. His work has been published in journals such as Communication Education, Communication Quarterly, Communication Studies, Communication Teacher, Imagination, Cognition and Personality, Review of Communication and the Southern Communication Journal.



Soohyung Joo

Soohyung Joo is an associate professor in the School of Information Science at the University of Kentucky. His primary research has centered around applied machine learning and text mining. He has recently participated in a collaborative research project that investigates the language learning of young children in the storytime setting based on natural language processing and text mining. 


Choi, Y. and Joo, S. (2020). Identifying facets of reader-generated online reviews on children's books based on a textual analysis approach. Library Quarterly, 90(3): 349-363.

Joo, S. and Cahill, M. (2019). The relationships between library resources and children's use of public libraries: an exploratory analysis of IMLS public library statistics data. Journal of LIbrarianship and Information Science, 51(2): 307-316. 



Firaz Peer

Firaz Peer is an Assistant Professor of Information Communication Technology in University of Kentucky's School of Information Science. As part of his research, he studies issues of accountability, justice, care and equity that manifest when building, using and maintaining algorithmic and data infrastructures for marginalized communities. He does this by combining participatory and design based research methods with scholarship from Human Computer Interaction and Science & Technology Studies. He is active in scholarly communities such as ACM's Computer Supported Collaborative Work and Social Media (CSCW), ACM's Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), AMC's Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS), iConference, Participatory Design Conference (PDC), and Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S).


Firaz Peer, Michael Nitsche, and Lauren Schaffer. 2014. Power puppet: science and technology education through puppet building. In Proceedings of the 2014 conference on Interaction design and children (IDC '14). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 221-224. DOI:

Firaz Peer, Anne Friedlander, Ali Mazalek, and Florian "Floyd" Mueller. 2011. Evaluating technology that makes physical games for children more engaging. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC '11). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 193-196. DOI:




Department of Communication Faculty

Aurora Occa

Aurora Occa is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Kentucky. Her research focuses on developing and evaluating persuasive messages for health communication interventions and campaigns emphasizing cancer prevention, screening, and the opportunity to join clinical trials. Recent projects include a focus group study with Italian children to understand their information needs about the HPV vaccine; and an evaluation of a video game and an animated video developed to communicate about the HPV vaccine and the health guidelines with middle-school children. 


Occa, A. (2020) Who is Scared of a Needle? An Exploration of Italian Children's Knowledge and Perceptions About the HPV Vaccine. Journal of Canver Education, 1-6.

Rangelov, N., Suggs, L.S., Occa, A., Radchuk, O., & Schmeil, A. (2017). Online games to improve children's knowledge of nutrition and physical activity guidelines -- A pilot study. Global Journal of Health Science, 9(4), 134-134.



School of Journalism and Media Faculty

Kyra Hunting

Kyra Hunting is an Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Studies in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky. She studies children's educational and entertainment programming from a media studies and critical cultural perspective. Her work is focused primarily on children's media as an industry and gender representation in children's media and children's media's narrative structure. She also studies children and adolescents affective and creative engagement with media texts through the lends of fans studies. 


Hunting, K. (2019). Finding the Child Fan. Journal of Fandom Studies 17 (2): 93-111

Hunting, K. (2014). Disney Jr. Appisodes and the "Merged Screen" Viewing Experience. Spectator. 34.2



College of Communication and Information Graduate Students 

Caitlin Taylor

Caitlin Taylor is a graduate student in the University of Kentucky's Library Science program. Her research interests are focused in information literacy instruction. She is currently working with Dr. DiGiacomo in researching contemporary information literacy conceptions and pedagogy in K-12 and higher education contexts. Considering the diversity and varying information literacy knowledge and skills among students in the classroom, the goal of this research is to help inform inclusive information literacy pedagogy and understand how K-12 students' information literacy impacts and supports their transition to higher education.



Kate Grafelman

Kate Grafelman is a graduate student in the University of Kentucky's Library Science program. Her research interests are focused on inclusive and accessible library programming for early childhood. She is currently working with Dr. Barriage in researching inclusive programming practices for children ages birth to age five. Kate is currently employed at the Bartholomew County Public Library in Columbus, Indiana, where she is in charge of early childhood programming.



Hayley Hoffman

Hayley Hoffman is a third-year Ph.D. student and teaching assistant in the College of Communication and Information at the University of Kentucky. Her research interests include instructional communication, storytime, and children's literature. Having previously served as a research assistant in UK's School of Information Science, she is currently working with several members of YISE to publish results from a study on public library storytimes and school readiness. 



Renee LeFebvre

Renee LeFebvre is a first-year MA student and teaching assistant in the College of Communication and Information at the University of Kentucky. Her research interests include children's literature, visual communication, and instructional communication. 


LeFebvre, R. (2020). Children's picturebooks: A vivid medium for visual communication. Texas Tech University Undergraduate Research Conference (URC), Lubbock, Texas.

Brookey, R. A., DeVight, J., Dickenson, G., Lazic, G., LeFebvre, R. A., Ott, B., Phillips, J., Pollard, T. Schweitzer, B. (2020). The mutable mouse: The role of adaptability in Disney's dominance. Western States Communication Association Convention, Denver, Colorado. 



Contact Us

Please don't hesitate to reach out for any questions you may have about our research team.


If you are interested in learning more, please contact daniela.digiacomo [at]